Saturday May 4 2019
Almost perfect night for Torino

Torino were just six minutes away from climbing up to fourth place, as Vilizar Yakimov digests arguably the biggest Derby della Mole in years.

The Derby della Mole has always held a special place in the calcio world. This is hardly a surprise, as the rivalry dates back from 1907 and is the longest running derby in Italy featuring the same sides.

So much history and pride is at stake every time Juventus and Torino lock horns that every Derby della Mole has a significant meaning for both set of fans on and off the field. However, the 70th anniversary of the Superga disaster, as well as the Granata’s top four ambitions, boosted the importance of last night’s game even beyond its usual standards and the two teams did not disappoint.

Torino have often struggled to match the Bianconeri’s quality on the pitch in recent years, but this derby was nothing like that. The Granata punished arguably Juventus’ only major mistake in the game and took the lead thanks to Sasa Lukic before switching to counter-attacking mode - tactic that troubled Juve several times.

Alex Berenguer’s trickery and speed left Miralem Pjanic chasing shadows more than once during the first half, as the Spaniard completed three dribbles, one key pass and two shots before coming off in the 70th minute.

However, Torino’s attacking attempts faded away after Berenguer’s substitution and this exposed even further the terrible game that Andrea Belotti had. The Granata captain completed only 68% out of his 19 passing attempts, had only one shot on target and constantly failed to hold up the ball, as he lost possession six times.

This brings the question why Simone Zaza wasn’t introduced earlier at the expense of the Torino captain, but considering how well Walter Mazzarri had prepared his team for the game, it would be unfair to criticise the tactician for this.

On the other hand Juventus looked dangerous from the start - something that can’t be said about many of the Bianconeri games lately. As always, Cristiano Ronaldo was leading the frontline by example, but the absence of Mario Mandzukic was evident once again.

CR7 caused havoc in the otherwise perfectly organised Torino defence almost every time he touched the ball, but some questionable decision-making from Juan Cuadrado, Moise Kean and Federico Bernardeschi compromised most of Juve’s attempts in the first half.

Despite Juve’s finishing struggles, huge credit should be given to Gleison Bremer, who started his first game for Torino since moving from Atletico Mineiro in the summer. The 22-year-old finished the game with three tackles, five clearances and as many interceptions in Emiliano Moretti’s absence, so the Brazilian defender is someone who is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Ironically, Bremer was the man who blinked in the 84th minute, as he lost Ronaldo for a second, which resulted in one of Leonardo Spinazzola’s 11(!) crosses finding CR7’s head and with remarkable ease the five times Ballon D’or winner put the ball past the helpless Salvatore Sirigu.

It was refreshing to see Torino searching for the win after Ronaldo’s equaliser, as Mazzarri introduced Zaza at the expense of Lorenzo De Silvestri. However, it was already too late for the Granata, as they now trail Atalantaby two points in their unlikely push for a top fourfinish.

However, it would be unfair to judge Toro’s season based on the Champions Leaguetarget. The club has grown significantly this term and the fact that they’ve been punching above their weight showcases the great results of Mazzarri’s work.

Just like the importance of the Derby della Mole was not damaged by the fact that Juventus had already wrapped up another Scudetto or even by the half-empty Allianz Stadium, Torino’s success can’t be neglected. Failing to win against Juve or missing on a Champions League place is not a failure for the Granata - it’s a step in the right direction.

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